Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn is proposing a change to the foreign ownership rules for U.S. broadcasters. The issue will be discussed at the Commission's November public meeting. The rules currently cap foreign ownership at 25 percent and Clyburn's proposal would allow for the FCC to have more flexibility when it comes to reviewing any deals that would exceed that limit.
In a statement on Thursday, Clyburn said, "Today, I circulated a declaratory ruling that clears the way for increased access to capital and potential new investors for the broadcast sector. Approval of this item will clarify the Commission's intention to review, on a case-by-case basis, proposed transactions that would exceed the 25 percent benchmark that restricts foreign ownership in companies holding broadcast licenses. I look forward to working with my colleagues toward a final Commission vote next month."
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai commented in his own statement, "I am very pleased that Chairwoman Clyburn has circulated an item to modernize the agency's approach to foreign investment in the broadcasting business. Over a year ago, I called for the elimination of the de facto ban on any foreign investment in a U.S. broadcast holding company that exceeds a 25 percent benchmark. I am now optimistic that we will take that step at our next Commission meeting."
NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith weighed in as well, saying that, "NAB applauds Acting FCC Chairwoman Clyburn for proposing that the Commission should consider foreign investment in U.S. broadcast properties the same way it considers such investments in other telecommunications properties. This is fundamentally fair and will serve the public interest. Permitting new potential sources of capital for American radio and TV stations will strengthen our ability to continue providing compelling news, entertainment and sports programming and to remain competitive in a multichannel digital world."